Bringing the Holocaust Unit to Closure: Implications for the Future
SEGMENT III: Leon Bass “Remarks”
A group of American troops moving among the barracks in the Buchenwald concentration camp after liberation.
Col. Samuel A. Custer/USHMM #04884
Read remarks from Leon Bass The Liberation of the Nazi Concentration Camps 1945: Eyewitness Accounts of the Liberators (Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 1987). (5 minutes).
Leon Bass was a soldier in the United States Army during World War II and a liberator of Buchenwald. As an African American educator, he lectures as an eyewitness to the liberation.
Read this speech aloud to the class. Teachers may want to make copies for each student. Leon Bass's speech calls on all of us to take a stand in whatever way possible to speak out against bigotry and prejudice. He uses everyday examples to demonstrate how individual actions can make a difference and are essential if we are going to prevent a Holocaust from happening again.
Former prisoners of the “little camp” in Buchenwald stare out from the wooden bunks in which they slept three to a “bed.”
Elie Wiesel is pictured in the second row of bunks, seventh from the left, next to the vertical beam.
National Archives/USHMM #74607
Discussion Questions: (10 minutes)
- What does Leon Bass say is the way to avoid another genocide?
We each have a personal responsibility to respond and react to incidents of violence and bigotry.
- How can we, as individuals make a difference?
When we hear name-calling, or people using derogatory language about another ethnic group, we must each ask the person using it to stop.
- Ask students if there have been times that they have stood by when incidents like the one Bass describes have occurred.
Almost everyone has been involved in hearing or seeing seemingly small acts of bigotry.
- Ask students how they could respond to these incidents differently next time they are faced with them.
Student responses will vary, but one hopes they will recognize that there are ways of speaking out without being confrontational. For example: "It offends me or hurts me when I hear you talk about someone or a particular group like that. I know that you did not mean it so please don't talk like that!" Students must recognize that by letting their friends and acquaintances speak in a derogatory or disrespectful way, they are actually saying that it is okay.